Robots are everywhere. Car manufacturers use them on the assembly line. Doctors use them to perform intricate surgeries. You might have one to vacuum your house.

Scouts with Troop 125 of Dallas, Texas, recently saw how robotics help Dr. Elizabeth Coronado, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Medical City Plano hospital. The medical team there brought out a da Vinci surgery system for the troop to try out. Using a console that controls robotic arms, the Scouts performed a surgery — on an Operation game. The patient’s nose didn’t flash red as the Scouts carefully maneuvered the arms to remove the plastic bits from inside the game. It was a hands-on demonstration of how precise and helpful the surgery system can be.

Robotic surgery equipment has dramatically changed medical procedures, allowing for smaller incisions, thus drastically cutting average recovery times. A hysterectomy that used to require six weeks to recover from, now only takes two weeks, Coronado says.

“It is remarkable how doctors can use this type of technology to perform surgery on such small areas of the human body.” says 13-year-old Star Scout Maxwell Reynolds.

Earning the Robotics merit badge

Not only is Coronado a surgeon, but she’s a Scouting parent and counselor for the Robotics merit badge. The day involved Scouts checking out the $2 million medical robot and operating an endoscope simulator controlled with a handheld device similar to an Xbox controller.

In addition to the hospital visit, Scouts built small VEX robot cars at the nearby Sci-Tech Discovery Center museum. While the merit badge requirements specifically call for Scouts to construct a robot, there isn’t a requirement to see a robot in action. Finding a place that will allow Scouts to see one up-close can make other merit badge requirements, like the ones addressing robotics industries and careers, come to life.

The Scouts were able to complete all the requirements during the eight-hour day and raved afterward about how cool the experience was, Coronado says.

Let us know

What was a cool field trip your unit has taken lately? Was it for a Cub Scout Adventure? Merit badge? Council patch? Share in the comments below or by clicking here.

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